The 2013 U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp will kick off Saturday in Lake Placid, N.Y. Forty-four Americans under the age of 20 will compete in a series of practices and games in hopes of bettering their chances to make the U.S. National Junior Team at the 2014 World Junior Championship.
With the backdrop of the historic Olympic Center in Lake Placid, site of the 1980 Miracle on Ice, this camp has really become a destination event for scouts and has increased its media exposure. It is one of the more unique events on the international calendar.
The camp, as always, will include national teams from Sweden and Finland. However, the big twist to this year’s camp is that Canada will also be sending a team. All three will be using their time in Lake Placid as a chance to evaluate their own candidates for the World Junior Championship as well.
The camp has evolved over the years, but the introduction of Canada adds an entirely new and interesting element, which should bring more media coverage and hopefully better fan attendance as well.
Coming up after the jump, some of the things you need to know about following the 2013 World Junior Camp.
The 44 American players invited to camp have been split into two teams, Team White and Team Blue. There is little significance to how they’re split, but often the teams are built with some ideas on who to put together to see what might work at the World Juniors. So it’s worth watching some of the lineup combos and the special teams early on. They could give a few hints here and there.
Team Blue and Team White used to play a few games against each other, but with Canada in the mix, that won’t be happening this year. Each U.S. team will play a game against Sweden and another against Finland. After those two games, cuts will be made on either Monday or Tuesday, ahead of Wednesday’s action.
The remaining players will finish out a schedule that includes one game against each of Finland, Sweden and Canada.
Canada will be holding its own camp in Brossard, Que., before moving down to Lake Placid.
* – Not all players on Canada’s roster will be making the trip to Lake Placid.
Each game will follow IIHF rules and format. Tickets are on sale for each of the games. All games will be streamed live on FASTHockey.com, on a pay-per-view basis.
The Full Game Schedule (All Times ET):
Sun., Aug. 4
USA White vs. Sweden — 1 p.m.
USA Blue vs. Finland — 4 p.m.
Mon., Aug. 5
USA Blue vs. Sweden — 1 p.m.
USA White vs. Finland — 4 p.m.
Wed., Aug. 7
Canada vs. Finland — 1 p.m.
USA vs. Sweden — 4:15 p.m.
Thurs., Aug. 8
USA vs. Finland — 1 p.m.
Canada vs. Sweden — 4:15 p.m.
Sat., Aug. 10
USA vs. Canada — 1 p.m.
Finland vs. Sweden — 4:15 p.m.
Other Things to Know
— With the addition of Canada, this camp is going to include a litany of first-round draft picks and top prospects from many organizations. It will likely be the biggest collection of already-drafted talent outside of the World Junior Championship itself.
— Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper and newly-named Iowa Wild head coach Kurt Kleinendorst will serve as camp coaches for Team USA. Camp coaches give the head coach an extra set of eyes and some outside perspectives. It also keeps coaches involved under the USA Hockey umbrella. Current Olympic coach Dan Bylsma was a WJC camp coach two years ago.
The camp coaches also help out on the benches with USA White and USA Blue. Jon Cooper will be on the bench with Junior Team assistant coach Bob Motzko for USA Blue, while Kleinendorst will join Team USA assistant Greg Brown on the bench for USA White.
— This will be USA Hockey’s first camp without Tim Taylor as its director of player personnel since 2009. It will be a void felt by much of the staff, I’m sure. Taylor, who succumbed to cancer in April, revolutionized the way this team was scouted and selected. Since Taylor’s addition to the selection process, the U.S. has medaled three out of the four tournaments including gold in 2010 and 2013. No formal replacement has been named, but general manager Jim Johannson was already heavily involved in the process, so it may mean a bit more on his plate this time around.
World Junior Camp FAQs
—If a U.S. player isn’t invited to camp can he still make the team?
The answer is yes. This is easily the question I get asked most about this camp. Every year, a player that wasn’t in camp makes the final roster. USA Hockey holds a second camp with an expanded roster closer to tournament time, usually with around 25-29 players to get one last look at certain guys.
So if a player didn’t make this camp, or even if one gets cut while in Lake Placid, he is not out of the running for a final spot.
— Are the games competitive?
This is a good question, because it is summer hockey and the teams really don’t have anything to win.
The games are definitely competitive, though. They’re not as crisp as a mid-season game, but with each player wanting to make a good impression to improve their chances at the World Juniors, so these games are intense.
They lack the atmosphere of a big-time tournament, but unquestionably, this is the best hockey you can see in August, without question.
— Are the games airing anywhere?
I mentioned this above, but I know I’ll get this question a bunch. FASTHockey.com is streaming all games on a pay-per-view basis. Buying multiple game credits makes the games cheaper. I was really happy with the broadcast last year and have worked with these guys enough to know they do their best to put a good product out there.
So again, FASTHockey.com. Create a login, buy some game credits and enjoy some abnormally excellent hockey in August.
Coming up this week, much more preview coverage with notes on all 44 American players invited to the camp starting with the defense and goaltenders soon.